Mid-range and budget-oriented beach resorts dominate the hotel inventory of St. Pete Beach, a resort town on Florida’s west coast. The hotels below stand out for their historic charm (Don CeSar), wow-worthy features (TradeWinds Island Grand Resort), and sophisticated Spanish-villa-meets-yacht-club vibe (Kimpton Hotel Zamora).
Known as Florida’s “Pink Palace” for its bubblegum-hued exterior, the legendary beachfront Don CeSar resembles a grand Mediterranean castle. The 1928-built hotel is listed in Historic Hotels of America and has drawn notable personalities for decades. Elegant common areas include an elegant lobby with a bar, balconies with white rocking chairs, outdoor sofas and hammocks throughout the tropical grounds, and lounge chairs beside two beachfront pools. The 277 rooms are modern and bright, with elegant beach-style decor, and there are various suite options -- some with pool and beach views. The hotel caters to all kinds of travelers, including families and couples, as well as groups and weddings (with 38,000 square-feet of event space).
When it comes to history, refinement, and Old World good looks, TradeWinds Island Grand Resort can't hold a torch to the Don CeSar. However, the immense, 584-room resort is still an upscale pick thanks to its array of wonderful amenities. The lobby is airy and spacious, with beautiful wooden shutters, palm trees, and multiple desks for concierge, transportation, and business travelers. Outside, the 20-acre property is equally impressive: paddle boats circle a lazy river surrounding the resort, plus there are tennis courts, five heated swimming pools, whirlpools, and hammocks and private cabanas on the beach (included in the resort fee). Rooms in nearly 40 categories are decorated in British West Indies plantation style, and all have kitchenettes and flat-screen HDTVs. The resort mostly attracts families, but couples can also be found -- particularly in the romantic Italian restaurant, one of the multiple dining options on-site.
The 72-room, upper-middle-range Kimpton Hotel Zamora is easily the best area hotel option for couples looking for an upscale, romantic, and quiet atmosphere. (Don CeSar is certainly upscale and romantic, but also quite kid-centric, while Kimpton Hotel Zamora is geared toward adults.) The high-end boutique property has a seven-slip marina, elegant restaurant, and rooftop bar offering views of the Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico. Guest rooms are bright and sophisticated, with flat-screen TVs and big, beautiful bathrooms. However, thin walls and insufficient housekeeping are common complaints, and families will prefer Don CeSar or TradeWinds, both of which have loads of activities for children and teens, plus easy beach access. (Zamora is across the street from a beautiful, white-sand beach, but the cross-walk is about a quarter-mile away.)